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I Came Second Place In Helping People Out for the 504 Streetcar

You might remember such blog posts as my thoughts on the King St. Pilot and my long thread on Twitter on the subject. Since the pilot has started, I have used the Transit app more and more to give me transit directions. It does things like notify me when I'm two stops away and when my stop is approaching, useful only when GPS is available (i.e. not underground in the TTC subway). In August, it introduced Go, a crowdsourced real-time vehicle location feature. Many transit agencies, the TTC included, give the public access to real-time location of buses and streetcars, but the Transit app developers claim it can be 30 seconds out of date. With this new feature, riders are the source of information, and it feeds back to Transit's servers.

As a way to entice people to turn tracking on, the developers gamified it by counting how many people you've "helped" along the way. Presumably these are people who are sending their location to the app in the background, or looking at the app currently. They are not necessarily people thinking of using the route I'm on, but just people nearby. Over the course of a month, the number of people "helped" is aggregated and I'm ranked among other people who are doing the same thing. For November 2018, I came in second place:

I imagine the person who came in first tracked their trips for every rush hour during weekdays, whereas I worked from an undisclosed location couple of days in November and forgot to press "GO" a few times I did commute to the office along King St.

Some interesting problems came up: I sometimes take the 503, but it's not always listed as an option in the Transit app. It's truly the Secret Streetcar! I counted it as 504 for the purpose of the game. It did sometimes ask me if I was on the 503 or the 504, and I told the truth each time. Midway through using Transit Go, the 504 changed how it was split. Long story short, instead of two routes, 504 and 514, it changed where they turned off and kept 504A and 504B as the route numbers. The Transit app doesn't seem to differentiate between the two. That works out fine for me, since I'm aware of the difference, and even once a 504B caught up with a 504A (which I wanted to be on eventually), so I hopped off the streetcar that would turn left at Dufferin and got on the streetcar that would take me to Roncesvalles.

I don't know what happens if I end up 1st since I haven't ended up as 1st on any of the routes I take over the course of a month. There doesn't appear to be an API that I can tap into (to get where I went, how many people I helped, which place I'm currently in for a route). There are real-time updates to the directions (e.g. when I might miss a connection), but I haven't tested updated instructions for times when I stop at a transfer point to do something, like go to a coffee shop. It's still neat to try to get to the top and to wonder who it is that's more eager to give their location data away for free than I am, though.

Three Years In My Downtown Toronto Apartment

I have reflected recently on my three years at Acquia and my three years living in Toronto, and today marks three years living in my downtown Toronto apartment. I got the keys to the place on December 1st, 2015, and spent the next two weeks slowly moving in, making multiple subway and streetcar trips from a friend's basement to Queen & Spadina to bring over the stuff I had bought over the course of a month, and waiting for my Ikea furniture to be delivered and then put together. I would go several months without a couch, its purchase being a story of its own. I still rent, having failed to convince the landlord to buy the place off him, and have done two rounds of looking for a similarly new (my building was built in 2013 or so) and similarly tiny apartment to buy, without any luck.

The location of my current place couldn't be more ideal. It's a 17-minute streetcar ride to work, and I'm located on one of Toronto's best shopping avenues (Queen St.) and its entertainment district (King St.), at the intersection of two streets with dedicated streetcar paths (both King and Spadina). Every music venue I end up attending seems to be half an hour away by transit for some reason, but at least it's only ever that.

My proudest moment, aside from the couch purchase, has been the addition of a Muskoka chair. The dream of owning a cottage in Ontario is the dream of owning a car, and I'd just rather not. So instead of bringing me to the cottage, I brought the cottage to me. Would you believe I'm the only one in my building with one? You wouldn't, and that's because I own two now.

In order for it to have a name in Foursquare's Swarm app, I gave my apartment the moniker Hvalhús, which translates into "Whale House" (because I love whales). The English translation of if gets a "The" and there's an infrequently updated Twitter account and Instagram account for it every time something significant gets added to it.

"Space is at a premium" every time someone suggests I buy something for it, so I always order the smallest version of that thing. Three years of stuff has accumulated, and hopefully the winter months of January and February will be boring enough for me to want to part with some things. Overall, though, I'm very happy with it, and do things (like cook and hang art on the walls) that I would never have considered doing when I lived alone in my twenties. Now that I'm in my forties and living alone again, my apartment feels like a place to live in.

Thoughts on on the King St. Pilot after One Year

I've lived in the same apartment in Toronto, near Queen & Spadina, for almost 3 years. Initially my commute to an office at Church and The Esplanade was taking the 510 streetcar from either Queen or King St. depending on where the winds took me. That seemed like the fastest way to go until it donned on me that I was essentially taking a detour south past Front to Queens Quay and then back north to Union Station, and then walking through the morning wave of people coming in from all directions via the GO trains. At some point I changed my commute to take the King St. streetcar, with the new Flexity cars just coming into service on the 504 route. (That might have been when I learned of the Secret Streetcar, the 503, with its semi-permanent short turn at Spadina Ave. and threading through Charlotte to head back east on King. It's the only time I can get a seat in the morning, and I'll let multiple packed streetcars pass knowing that soon, soon I will be the only one boarding an empty streetcar on my way to work.)

The year or so I spent on the King St., no matter which route, was a contract with congestion. Luckily then my pager duty shifts would start in the afternoons, because at least then I did not have to be in the office by a certain time in the mornings. It was not so much that travel times were long but how unpredictable they were. It wasn't even a joke that people could walk faster than the streetcar, it was a reality. If the choice was spending 45 minutes standing in a streetcar and a 45-minute walk to work, I would choose the latter.

As soon as I got wind that the City of Toronto, in conjunction with the TTC, would change the traffic pattern so that cars were required to exit King St. at each intersection (with exceptions), and not only be required to turn right but mandated to do so, meant that the streetcar would be the only vehicle on the road. The right lane on both sides is closed to traffic, and open only for art installations or loading zones or taxi bays. I called the pilot project a success at the outset, because it felt like a daring exercise the TTC is not exactly known for, and it prioritized transit riders which not only benefited me directly (I have never owned a car and don't want to), but it would benefit the tens of thousands of transit riders along the King St. corridor. After a year of the pilot, I was surprised how low the increase was in ridership at 11%, though it does seem to me and other riders of the streetcar that people are more packed in, and that Presto undercounts due to 'free rides' simply because people can't reach to tap in. (If I had any doubt that the TTC counts Bluetooth devices to determine the number of riders, the open data catalogue has put them to rest.) I remain of the opinion that no matter how many streetcars are on the route, they will fill up, because of how predictable the commute times are. That's a good thing! I'm just a little dismayed that overcrowding is presented as a problem, which it is, but unless they keep up with densification along the corridor, which they won't anytime soon, "overcrowding" will be present for a long while.

(Don't get me wrong: I'm in favour of more streetcars along King St., since it will mean even people on streetcars, which means fewer people driving cars. I just don't think getting a seat is something anybody should realistically count on.)

This evening I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by TTCRiders.ca. Attendees were split up into groups of 7 or 8 and led by a facilitator to discuss the pilot. To my pleasant surprise, a candidate for council in my ward, April Engleberg, led the discussion at my table. We had a sheet with 5 questions in front of us, and for each of the 5 questions, we had time to answer them on our own and then discuss them among the group. I represented the early-40s white male perspective as best I could, and found the complaints and concerns everybody brought to be eye-opening. Since my commute time is very predictable now (always under 17 minutes while in a streetcar, and traffic is only ever stuck behind one), I call the line a subway on the ground. My vision for the King St. has it extended to Roncesvalles Ave., if only to make it easier for me to move to Etobicoke, but that's another story.

Did some people think it was a session to complain to city staff despite being explicitly told it wasn't. Yes. Was it a shame that the groups stayed the same throughout the night? Possibly. Did I reframe some of my thoughts about the pilot based on other people's experiences of it? Absolutely.

At work, we had to stop calling a new service that we tried out with a select group of customer as a pilot because they associated that word with a temporary thing. The customers saw themselves as early adopters of something, so I worry too that the King St. Transit Pilot is seen by implementors and stakeholders and consumers as impermanent. I see everybody in the area as being not so much as early adopters, but as participants in a new way of thinking of city streets that was (and still is) disruptive, with some problems to iron out (and possibly people to compensate). I hope King St. becomes a transit-only part of town, and that we listen to people in the roundtables, who suggested that maybe public art in street lanes didn't work as well as it could, but can still reclaim that lane for people by making it a wider sidewalk (with public art!).

I’ve seen the Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal trilogy

I’ve now seen, in quick succession, all three films by Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal. This one follows Manufactured Landscapes (which I’d seen a couple of times previously to last month’s screening) and Watermark. Anthropocene makes the case that we’ve entered a geological epoch that follows the Holocene, which we are ostensibly currently in. The idea is that humans have so transformed the Earth, including inside, on top, and the atmosphere that we now have the most effect on the planet.

It was awe-inspiring to see the wide, colourful shots of the three films on the big screen. Anthropocene doesn’t show any of Burtynsky’s photographs like the previous two films do. It does linger on drone shots and sweeping views of people (including the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, which, wow), however, and it’s a worthy successor to the documentaries it follows. I plan on owning all three on Blu-ray to watch on my TV which will do none of them justice.

Remembrance Day at Fort York

Spurred by a tweet from the best-shod man in Toronto, Shawn Micallef, instead of taking in Remembrance Day at Old City Hall like I have in past years here in Toronto, I took in the ceremony at Fort York. Little did I know that the historical military fortification would be open to the public before and afterwards.

I caught the parade of World War I recreationists as they made their way to the ceremony on the other side of the parking lot from the fort itself:

Fort York Remembrance Day 2018

There were few people on the site main site before, so I got some snapshots of how it looked devoid of humanity:

Fort York Remembrance Day 2018

The back door of the fort was open, so I wandered out to see what it looked like:

Fort York door

A WWI recreationist and his gas mask (in the pack on his chest):

WWI soldier

The CN Tower was the backdrop for the ceremony held on the other side of the Fort York grounds:

Remembrance Day ceremony at Fort York

A canon is pointed towards the Gardiner Expressway:

Fort York Remembrance Day 2018

Three Years in Toronto

I remember knocking on a former co-worker's door, on Hallowe’en of 2015, wondering if he'd ask me to greet trick-or-treaters as part of my responsibilities as a short-term renter of his basement suite. I would be spared those duties, and thankfully so, since I had just moved over 3000 km, away from my family and my then-girlfriend, to start at a new life in Toronto. I don't remember much else about that night, except that it was a Saturday, which would give me another day in Toronto to figure out how to get to the office. On the Sunday I did a test run of taking two subways, less to see what the crowding would be like and more to be familiar with which station to switch at the next day.

The previous month I had travelled to Europe, a whirlwind tour of 3 countries (Iceland, Germany and Italy) for a wedding. On the last day, I was passenger in a one-car accident, and the day after that took 4 flights and finally, 48 hours after the event, finally sought medical attention. I didn't suffer anything more serious than muscle strain, but my final destination after Europe wasn't Vancouver, where I had lived for 16 years, but Toronto, to get my bearings a little bit and, hopefully, find a place to live. Through the miracle of stumbling around on Craigslist, I would end up with a real estate agent, and though the brief days in September didn't lead to my finding a place, she would help me find my current apartment, the one I've been living in since December of 2015.

The months and years that followed would lead to the disintegration of my relationship with Karen, though we have remained friendly to this day. I would end up in Gravenhurst due to a hilarious mixup, host my mother on her many visits to Canada's biggest and therefore best city, and now the baseball trip that my dad, brother and nephew go on is one that comes here to watch the Blue Jays at the SkyDome, which is a 20-minute walk from my place. I've become a board member of a small club celebrating Nordic culture in Toronto, something I wouldn't have considered doing in Vancouver, and I stay connected to my local area through my neighbourhood association. In January, I celebrate my 3rd year of cooking for myself, another thing that wouldn't have occurred to me at all while in B.C. Vancouver has nothing on the amount of events and seemingly endless streets and number of festivals and weather intensity that Toronto has.

Reflecting on these past three years, I realized that if someone were to say "Get a life!" I'd be able to respond with all of the above! 2015 marked the first time I've lived alone since 2008, though writing that out now makes me understand that those years were the anomaly, and not the other way around. A month from now would mark the 3-year point of my residency in my tiny apartment, and despite efforts to make it feel like a home, it still doesn't feel like home.

A friend noted that it took him 5 years to really get settled into Toronto, and maybe it'll take another couple of years for the social network here to really develop. I know my way around the city, at least, and despite not feeling like an Ontarian, I feel closer to being a Torontonian. My phone number is still a Vancouver number, and the time zone of my blog is still set to Pacific time, and the mountains are a sight for sore eyes every time I visit the West Coast. With the job I still love being here and my gradually increasing local involvement, my immediate future plans involve me right where I am, since, to mix a metaphor, while still a transplant, I'm putting down a few roots.

I'm an Opening Day Member of Toronto's Museum of Contemporary Art

Toronto, Canada's largest and therefore best city, deserves something like the Museum of Vancouver, somewhere to gather and reflect on the rich history of the local region without having to pay an arm and a leg, and which schoolchildren will be required to visit. The GTA has hard-to-pronounce Myseum of Toronto, with interesting events, for free or cheap, but no permanent location. The closest Toronto has to an inexpensive museum that can claim to be a fresh breath of air, has a general audience, though with a subject area not tied to the surrounding area is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Like the MOV it's situated in an awkward area, though at least it's walking distance from two subway stations (Lansdowne and Dundas West).

On the opening weekend, I went for a visit and signed up for the $50/yearly membership right away. They encouraged museum-goers to contribute to some of the exhibits, opened up some of the small artist spaces to the public (they should do this yearly, at a minimum, to help demystify the making of art and for people to get to meet the artists with studios on the premises). As Murray Whyte's review of the opening exhibitions attest, the museum offers much food for thought on its 4 floors (all above the bottom floor) of the Tower Automotive Building.

My membership card for MOCA arrived recently. I'll visit once a quarter, since it is a little out of my way to get to. It will do until Toronto gets its downtown museum dedicated to the city, which I also hope to be a member of on its opening day.

Listening to Albums

It has been easy to forget about albums, the collection of songs that would encompass an entire CD, and vinyl and cassettes before that, with the fractured attention in the online era. It has also been easy to forget about record stores, since they have largely disappeared outside of the occasional vinyl record shop these days. Every now and then, an artist will promote their album, asking us to buy it on such and such a date, when I have, for a few years now, been a subscriber to Apple Music, giving me unlimited access to whatever they happen to have on file. Up until about early 2017, I hadn't made much use of it, though it had come in handy when someone had discussed something they thought I'd be interested in. Discovery of new music has become somewhat more difficult after music blogs stopped really being a thing, and it's impossible to rely on Facebook and Twitter for anything involving focus.

I've been a longtime reader of Pitchfork, and I still take their reviews seriously. The end of year is my favourite time, since anything I would have missed over the course of 11 months had a chance to come back on my radar. I have often committed to listening to the top 100 tracks of the year, with the top albums being a bit daunting. Their album list trends towards the mainstream, and I was craving something a little more daring. In late 2016 or early 2017, a friend pointed out The Quietus's top 100 list, and it satisfied the criteria of being just a little outside of what I would find on Pitchfork. Not content to listen to the albums in order, though, once the top 100 list comes out, I shuffle the list and make an effort to listen to each of them.

About 90% of the albums can be found on Apple Music, with the rest being streamable from Bandcamp. It has been the rare album that I can listen straight through in one go, since it's rare that I have an hour or so at a time to focus on any one thing. That said, since early 2017, I've listened to over 150 unique albums, ranging in genre from rap to electronic to experimental to bluegrass to metal. While metal is the music I have most difficulty with, a commitment is a commitment. I've been able t hook up my Last.fm profile with my iPhone, which has required installing a separate app called QuietScrob and ensuring that albums are in "my library" before playing. For any new-to-me artist that I like, I check Songkick to see if they're playing in whatever city I happen to be in, and I declare my plains both on Songkick and on Facebook if either is possible. Songkick has been good for getting notified of old faves rolling through town, too.

I've Read From A Book for 6 Months Straight

Apparently one way to form a habit is to do that thing once a day and make a streak. Apps like Snapchat encourage streaks of sending someone in particular a message or photo, and Timehop keeps track of how many days in a row you check in on your past social media activities. It had recently occurred to me that I had stopped doing something I used to love, which is to read books.

I have recently come to regret not so much the polarized nature of Twitter but rather its effect of fracturing my attention. A tweet about one topic is followed by another, with links out to articles that I would feel hurried to read because there was another tweet waiting for me to react to. To stretch out my attention span, I wanted to get back into reading books though it had felt like there wasn't a satisfying reward mechanism to get me hooked again. That was until the Bookly iPhone app crossed my radar. I had used a few apps in the past to track the amount of time spent reading, which would give me an idea of how long it took me to read an entire book, and at what pace I read. The Bookly app added to that the concept of a reading streak, and that was exactly what I needed.

A new job in a new city made it difficult to find time to read books in the last couple of years. Recently, I set out to read a book (dead trees editions) for about 15 minutes a day for 30 days straight. On May 19th of this year, I hit that goal. I have since read from a book, either dead trees or electronic edition (mostly the latter) for 180 days in a row. I still post my progress to Goodreads, and by the end of the year I hope to have read a modest 20 books. I'm in awe of those who read 100 or more books, which is doable with planning and persistence. Reading before work and not before bed is definitely a great tip, though for me, my commute is fairly short, and time seems to go by a lot faster in the morning than it does in the evening. I've so far been able to carve out time every day, and hope to be able to do it every day for the, weeks, months and years to come.

Fantasy Pools

Have I told you that I’m part of a baseball fantasy pool? While growing up, I played and watched baseball, and being one of the taller players, naturally I was assigned first base. I distinctly remember the time I sat on the family home’s deck and told my parents I wanted to focus on basketball instead, which was the right decision. I would cheer for the Blue Jays, and now that I think about it, the 1994 strike coupled with graduating high school and focusing on my floundering at university (which I would recover from), I lost interest. Fast-forward to 2007, with only 3 channels on my TV, the CBC started showing Blue Jays games again. I bought an HD over-the-air receiver, and fell in love with a young utility player named José Bautista.

Years of fandom since then did not lead to an interest in joining a fantasy baseball team, though. I didn’t the appeal of following a list of players, or being an armchair GM for ballplayers across several teams.

At least not until saying yes last year. I got my chance to be creative with my team name (Batter’s Eye, after the background to what the hitter sees behind the pitcher so that he can see the ball betterf), and happily overpaid for Josh Donaldson following his MVP season. I haven’t made the playoffs yet, but it has been enjoyable to look at who’s trending for picking up on waivers and making trades that will hopefully benefit all parties.

I’ve since joined a basketball fantasy pool in order to feel better connected to the game, especially the NBA players. Being a big guy myself, I have mixed feelings about the trend towards three pointers. On the one hand, I get that you have to go with what works, but on the other hand, the big men are so athletic and fun to watch when they post up.

I named my team Paper Towels after the time that Trump “shot” paper towels to people waiting for provisions in Puerto Rico, with my icon being the paper towels as they leave the President’s hands. It symbolized a moment where he thought he was helping, was enjoying the moment, but seems to have misread the seriousness of the situation. Or maybe he didn’t care. It’s an iconic moment in my mind, so I wanted to memorialize it.

I don’t intend to win at all costs, but I also don’t intend to be a doormat. I dress active players as often as I can, and make trades when they seem good. I reject my fair of trades if it doesn’t work for me, though I don’t propose any, not really knowing what I need. It has been a fun way to keep track of individual players without cheering for a single team, that being an emotionally draining enterprise. At least with a fantasy pool, I have some measure of impact on the outcome.

Three Plants

The other life form in my apartment (until I started bringing in flowers) was a aloe vera plant. I had no strong desire to extract the aloe vera itself, and living alone, I wanted something to care for that wasn't just me. I have on my Sunday routine to water the plant, and so far so good. Except for the first year or so, I had watered it too much. After giving it to a friend in Toronto to care for it for 3 weeks while I was out of town, she and her partner gave it a name (Lady Jane, after Lady Jane Grey but mainly because they like the sound of it), and, noticing it was unhealthy, even drew up plans for its rehabilitation:

On its arrival back at my apartment, I propped it up with some chopsticks and twist ties:

It's doing well, now, though still with its supports. Today, that same friend has given me 2 more plants to take care of:

They don't yet have names, so I will take suggestions. I'm also looking forward to potentially taking in a 4th plant once I get my second bookshelf, one that will drape down the side of it, potentially.

(I regret to inform you that after I took the photo of all 3 plants, Lady Jane lost an arm.)

UNO Synth Day 2

The real magic from the UNO Synth will come not from being a standalone synthesizer but rather an instrument in an orchestra. After playing around with modifying the preset sounds and playing the demo patterns at lunchtime today, I figured out how to use the sequencer without the aid of the manual, and the video tutorial is very good. I have watched the tutorial on the sequencer, and the possibilities are exciting.

Since I have the connectors to do it, I hooked up my Teenage Engineering Rhythm and tried to get it to sync. I was so far successful only in manually syncing a pattern on the Rhythm and the UNO, only out of sheer luck, and on the first try. After watching a video on syncing a PO-12 with a Korg Volca, it didn't make obvious how to do the same with the UNO, and any videos on how to sync an the UNO with a Pocket Operator have so far not yet been made.

So far it's fun to sit on the couch and listen in using my headphones and rely on batteries for power, meaning I can work with it untethered from an electrical outlet. Conceivably I could use it on my commute, if my transit commute were long enough. With 17 minutes on a streetcar being my typical travel time, I'll barely get it out of my bag before I arrive at my stop.

New Arrival: The UNO Synth

Toronto held a synthesizer expo in August of this year, and it coincided with a pager duty shift. That meant I was able to visit, but I couldn't hang around it long. The purpose of my attendance was to gather information, and to see if Teenage Engineering would have a booth. They did not. I talked to the Roland folks, and mentioned that I was new to synths, and told them I was looking at the Pocket Operator series. The salesman would hip me to the Korg Monotron Duo as another fun way to experience a small, cheap synth, and after watching some YouTube, long story short, a unit is in the mail. (From Japan for some reason.) At the synth expo, would be intimidated by the modular rack you see below:



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Synthia!

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Right across the aisle, I met my first, true love of synthesizers, the IK Multimedia UNO Synth:

(None of the people in that photograph are me, and it was taken by the IK Multimedia rep.)

I tried a few notes and twibbled a few knobs, and when picking it up, I was stunned how light it was. It felt like it barely existed. It was for sale at the expo and Moog Audio (a synthesizer and guitar effects pedals shop with stores in Toronto and Montréal), and they were selling it for a promotional price of $200 Canadian. Since I had only heard about it then, and hadn't even gotten started with synths (that would happen a month later), I couldn't pull the trigger. The promotional price lasted, as advertised, that weekend, and after I had decided to plunk down the money, the price went up to its manufacturer suggested price of $250.

Another month of visiting Moog Audio and watching YouTube videos would go by, the price remaining the same. A week ago, the idea of finding it on Craigslist or eBay occurred to me, and I did find a few units on the auction site. One unit had a starting price of $100 USD, which made me wonder how that unit was acquired. I decided it was none of my business, and set a mental bid limit of $200 Canadian, and just kept bidding until I reached that price. Thanksgiving Monday was the last day of bidding and, a little bit hungover from drinking a few beers the night before, I had somehow woken up at 7:00 AM, looked at my phone, and noticed I had been outbid, but was still under my self-imposed limit. I would sleepily miscalculate what I needed to bid to stay under $200 (it would work out to about $218), but I figured that would be OK, since Ontario taxes is 13%, and $218 would be under the $226 full price of the promotional price. I expected to be outbid, since that was still cheaper than retail price, but due to some miracle, someone didn't want it more than I did.

Not thinking I would be in town when it eventually was delivered, I had it go directly to the post office with FlexDelivery, a service Canada Post offers to have packages sent directly to the post office with a unique address where they email you when something arrives. I got the notification today, 2 days after the message from eBay indicating it was shipped, and not realizing what it was for, I matched up the tracking info start date with the shipping date. And here it is:



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New Arrival

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The getting started tutorial](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uROaDUZq9zU) doesn't linger on any of the features, so tonight I have watched it with lots of pausing and rewinding. I like that style a lot, actually. There's no wasted time, and I can still go through it at my own pace. I've already downloaded the controller software, and the only disappointment so far is that I can't update the firmware. I had heard from the IK Multimedia rep at the synth expo that turning it off resets the unit, so after I recalled that, taking out the battery took it out of bootloader mode. So far I love everything about it, from how it looks to how it feels to how it's controlled. I can't wait to make interesting noise with it!

How I Use OmniFocus Notes

I use OmniFocus to keep track of what needs to be done on an individual level. All sorts of projects, from buying and framing art to starting hobbies to making notes about things to look up later get jotted down in OF. If I was ever lacking in things to do, that is no longer the case, with almost 900 open actions in 117 projects. (Not included: routine tasks that a checklist is a better fit for.) OF does not track tasks that work expects me to do, since in that case I'm accountable to others, and priority set not necessarily by me. In tickets, I always try to log what I did at the time of doing it, so that others can piece together later what happened.

So I do the same in OF notes for a task. If it's a repeating task, I write down if anything had changed since the last time and whether there were roadblocks I came across so that when I do it the next time, I can avoid them. For tasks waiting on something to happen (a delivery, for example), I make a note of the updates that come my way. Every entry in the notes gets a date associated with it, just in case I need to look up when I did something that has to do with that task.

I try not to put notes from a call or meeting in OF, since they end up being harder to find. I settled (finally) on the iOS/Mac Notes app, which syncs across all the devices I use at the moment. Whenever possible, I add a link in the OF note to something that's referenceable by URL. A Day One journal entry would be a good example, or a web page that came in handy when looking into something.

I wish there was Markdown in OF notes, but there is quite a bit possible with formatting without it, so it would only solve the problem of making bullet lists easier. (I have a text expansion shortcut for the bullet • for when typing a bullet list out on a Mac.) Sometimes OF notes become blog posts, like a forthcoming one on a synthesizer purchase, on its way from who-knows-where, the outcome of which I'm still not sure of. Usually, though, it's a way for me to track what I did and when over the lifetime of a task, and to be able to bring up a timeline if need be.

Ward 10 (Spadina-Fort York) All-Candidates' Meeting

Spadina-Fort York is a federal riding, a provincial riding, and a Toronto ward, and the boundaries are identical. Being from British Columbia, and having spent most of my adulthood in Vancouver (which does not have a ward system), the riding boundaries do not match at all. The recent changes to the wards in Toronto (from 44 to a proposed 47 to an eventual 25) set the wards to match the provincial (and therefore federal) ridings. So we will have a situation where Toronto has a councillor, MPP (member of provincial parliament) and MP (federal member of parliament) represent the exact same people but with different responsibilities.

I live in the Garment District of Toronto, which is a postage stamp neighbourhood comprising the area bounded by Spadina to Bathurst and Queen to King. I tell people I live at Queen and Spadina, though King and Spadina would be just as accurate. (Queen St. seems more famous than King St. to me.) I've been a member of the Garment District Neighbourhood Association as soon as I heard about it in 2016, and have gained their trust such that help run their Twitter and Instagram accounts and, to a lesser extent, their Facebook account. I have no plans on running for a board position, but I do like staying involved with them, helping make the neighbourhood as good as it can be.

Tonight, along with 7 other neighbourhood associations, the GDNA presented and all-candidates meeting featuring men and women running for council.

The MPP Chris Glover addressed the crowd (he noted he was allotted 45 seconds and stayed within that time).

The candidates, seated randomly, would answer questions in that order, always starting with a the candidate next on the list for each question (so that people only went first once at most). Each got two minutes to speak. Everybody more or less stuck to time. I took notes on my iPhone, and there was no break for me for my fingers to regain their composure. (It would later emerge that the meeting was recorded.) The themes were housing affordability, community safety, population growth in the ward/riding, waterfront protection and revitalization (the riding includes the waterfront along Queens Quay, not to mention Toronto Islands and the Billy Bishop airport), and infrastructure (especially as it relates to flood protection). I barely heard mention of the King St. transit pilot, and not a peep from it from the candidate most opposed to it. To say I'm a supporter of the King St. transit pilot would be an understatement. Three or four candidates stood out for me as potentially getting my vote: the incumbent Joe Cressy, litigation lawyer April Engelberg, former banker and current officer in Her Majesty's Royal Canadian Navy Kevin Vuong (the only candidate on my list not to use Nation Builder for his website), and businessman Rick Myers.

Due to the uncertainty around the which ward system the election would run under, and due to my not being in town on election day, I've had to rush somewhat to judgment on who I will end up voting for. Of the four above, I have little doubt they will remain involved in their communities and in politics, whether or not they call themselves a politician. Advance voting starts tomorrow, so I have about 48 hours to come down on a decision. I was heartened by what I saw at the all-candidates' meeting. Some clearly were not put on this earth to serve in public office, and some had the earnest belief that they can make a difference in their communities that I admire, so I hope that the latter will continue with that attitude afterwards and stay politically even though their candidacy for council is a long shot.

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